Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the annual GA Debate on UN Security Council Reform, November 16

17.11.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Mr. President,

Let me add a few words in my national capacity, aligning myself with the statement just delivered by Brazil on behalf of the G4.

Once upon a time, in a world very different from today, the United Nations were created. Since then, more countries have entered the scene, more people, new challenges – and we need to adapt the institutions we have built in order to ensure their continued relevance and legitimacy and reflect these new realities. This September, our Heads of State and Government have, therefore, reiterated their long-standing call for reforms.

In keeping with last year’s fairy tale theme, like Grimm’s Prince we need to urgently muster the courage to cut through the thick rose hedge of cluster-discussions, general statements and repetition of positions – and finally enter the palace to kiss Sleeping Beauty to fulfil the task given to us by our Heads of State and Government: We must “instill new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council”. We need a representative Security Council to deal with the complex challenges to international peace and security the world faces today.

Together, we need to finally start addressing the issue in a meaningful way. We therefore agree with the many here today who stress the need for a renewed sense of urgency in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform (IGN). By merely stating repetitions of issues, we run the risk of turning this process into a vehicle for maintaining the status quo. And we cannot accept that. We will not accept seeing our carriage turn into a pumpkin again at the stroke of summer in the next roll-over decision.

Therefore, we trust our skilled co-facilitators Ambassador Joanna Wronecka, Permanent Representative of Poland, and Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, to immediately get to work and restart meetings in whatever format to allow for meaningful engagement and effective negotiations. Their early appointment bodes well. Like the good fairies in “Sleeping Beauty” we count on them to resist those who would like to derail the process, either openly or in a rather opaque manner. We count on both of them to live up to their role as “facilitators” by doing their utmost to propel the reform process forward and guide the IGN into the right direction, as it enters its 13th year now. Let the number 13 be our “lucky 13”!

As our former Indian colleague so aptly said in one of the only two IGN sessions we had this year, what we need is “a little less conversation, a little more action”. Like fish live in water, UN diplomats work on texts. It is what we do, and it is what we should be doing. We need an actual outcome: a single consolidated text.

The need for such progress is clear: without enhanced representation of countries with the capacity and willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, in particular from Africa, the Council is losing its credibility and the political backing it needs for the peaceful resolution of crises.

The G4 agrees with other reform-minded countries and groups on the need for a representative UN Security Council to help us restore confidence in international cooperation and global governance in these testing times. We intend to make a united push, and we have therefore supported the Common African Position, as stipulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration.

Just like the entire palace staff waking up in the fairy tale after a hundred years of slumber, we need to wake up to an open, inclusive and transparent process, with webcasting, record-keeping and the application of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.

And it must not take a hundred years for us to do so – forty years of deliberations are more than enough. Now in the 75th session of the General Assembly is the time to infuse the United Nations with new vitality – and reforming the Security Council is a central element!

Mr. President, the UN@75 Declaration asks that new life is instilled in the Security Council discussions. To speak in the language of our fairy tale: as king of the General Assembly you bear a specific responsibility for the Sleeping Beauty to be kissed.

Thank you!


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